Current Reading, Part I – Olive

I recently read a post by Jodi Meadows on the blog “Pub Crawl” (what a great name, right?!) about a common question authors are asked: what are you reading? Figured I’d jump in as I’m reading some unique stuff that’s been unexpectedly inspiring…

I generally, as Jodi recommends, read books in a few different genres at the same time. Jodi offers four categories on her blog: Popular, Award Winning, Out-of-Comfort Zone, and Books you love. Coincidentally, I’ve currently got one book in each of these categories between my nightstand and kindle. But I’d also add one more category to her four: non-fiction.

Pop Lit

Although I have had it on my nightstand for some time, I’m three quarters of the way through Red Rising by Pierce Brown. The reason I picked up this book a few months ago was because it was popular scifi that isn’t quite typical dystopian, in my opinion, as the story is not set on Earth. Word on the street is that the market is saturated with dystopian books, though I, and many others, keep reading them. Red Rising hit #20 on the NYT best seller’s list in February 2014. Universal Pictures purchased the rights, so it appears we might have a movie to see as well—exciting!

I’ve read most of the book at this point, and one thing that that stands out is the level of violence. People die, and the main character kills people. I thought it initially was a YA book, but after reading parts in the middle, which include the mention of rape and ripping off of ears, I’m not so sure. Not that it bothers me personally.

Most of the scifi I write tends to be more hard scifi; I like to talk about how things work and have those things actually make sense. A lot of what Aristen and I tend to write is character driven, with aspects of other genres. Red Rising has aspects of dystopian stories, while keeping to a more soft scifi feel. While Mars is “terraformed,” which is why people can live on the planet’s surface, the story is light on why or how this can happen. Some sort of relationship between Helium-3 mined on Mars and terraforming exists, but it’s glazed over during the story. What is most focused on is the journey or adventure of the main character, Darrow.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable story, and I just got distracted because I had a deadline for a beta read I needed to complete. I’m sure I’ll come back to it soon enough.

Red Rising Stats:

Word count: 124K / Page count: 382 / POVs: One / Genre: SciFi / First book in a Trilogy

Award Winning

The next book, The Confusion of Languages,  found its way into my hands for two reasons. First, the author, Siobhan Fallon, is both award winning (for her book You Know When the Men Are Gone, which won PEN/USA Literary Award)  and a military spouse. As a vet, I’m always curious as to the ways military spouses find ways to have their own life while following their spouse around the world and being the primary caretaker of children. Second, I participate in Penguin’s First to Read program. The Confusion of Languages was offered, and I selected it in hopes of getting a copy to review.

I’m not very far into The Confusion of Languages yet, but so far, I’m struck by the clarity of the characters. The two mains are Cassie and Margaret, and the story is told through Cassie’s POV. I think part of the reason this story resonates with me is because I’ve lived a form of the life these two women live. I can relate to the confusion and frustration of having to deal with a foreign culture and that culture’s civil society on the day to day. When you’re a military service member, you often get dumped into a new culture with little preparation. As a spouse, as I’ve seen through my friends’ experiences, you have even less connection, because you often don’t have a job (i.e. the military regimen) to root you in place.

I’ve also met these two women: one rule-follower, head strong, type A personality, and another that goes where the wind takes her, resisting and putting off dealing with the struggles of a new land, a new culture, until it’s more painful to than not.

The Confusion of Languages Stats:

Word count: 104K / Page count: 336 / POVs: One (so far) / Genre:Women’s Fiction stand alone

Next post, I’ll continue discussing what I’m reading in the other categories: Out-of-Comfort Zone, Books you love, and non-fic. What are you reading in these categories?

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